Erin go braugh, me lassies and laddies. Tis time for a wee muffin, perhaps with a cuppa tea? So fire up the oven, you'll be sittin' down in no time, happy to bite into a hot bit of bread with just a touch tad of caraway but plenty-for-sure, of dried fruit.
My vote for the biggest cookware scam in recent history: silicone. How many of us rushed out to buy crayon-colored sets of those rubber-like Bundt pans, muffin trays and then – after a few disappointing tries – sent them off to Goodwill? All that promise, all our money, what a waste.
So here’s my own list of silicone duds, along with the only two pieces of silicone left in my kitchen which, surprise, I really love.
Silicone baking pans – They’re hard to clean, slow to dry and awkward to store. They need a baking sheet underneath for support, complicating baking times. DUD.
Silicone spatulas – They resist heat, sure. But they have no bend and so are incapable of performing their primary function, scraping the bowls. Skip the silicone, give me the old-time Rubbermaid spatulas. DUD.
Silicone oven mitts – Again, these fat gloves have no give and thus are dangerous for grasping hot pots and pans. DUD.
Silicone trivets – Okay, these work fine but so do a dozen other products that are more attractive. DUD.
Silicone baking mats – These are expensive and you still need a cookie sheet below. But I do love the Roul'Pat for making pie crust and at least a silicone baking mat is reusable which parchment is not. SEMI-DUD.
Silicone pastry brushes – Yay, finally a winner! Throw away the brushes that leave bristles behind when brushing hot crusts with butter, marinating meat. Plus – they clean beautifully in the dishwasher so there’s no question about cross-contamination between meat and other foods. HIT!
My latest favorites are silicone muffin and cupcake liners, used to bake the Irish Soda Bread Muffins. There’s no need to butter them, saving a step and calories. Better still, perfect muffins and cupcakes turn out of the liners every time. Mine came in green, orange and red from the grocery store but here's an online source. HIT!
What’s your experience? Which silicone products are duds and hits in your kitchen? Which do you recommend to Kitchen Parade readers?
IRISH SODA BREAD MUFFINS
Time to table: 45 minutes
Makes 12 muffins
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring
- 3/4 cup 100% White Whole Wheat Flour, preferably King Arthur, fluffed
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 2 teaspoons ground caraway (enough for subtle caraway flavor)
- 1-1/2 cups dried fruit (currants, cranberries, apricots, golden raisins), larger pieces cut small
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 egg
- 1 cup buttermilk (see TIPS)
- Demerera sugar for topping (see TIPS)
Preheat oven to 400F. If using silicone liners, drop into a muffin tin. If using muffin tins, grease the cups or line with papers.
In a medium bowl, stir together the dry ingredients (that’s the flours, sugar, baking powder and soda, salt and caraway) and the dried fruit.
In a small bowl, melt the butter in the microwave in 10-second increments. While it melts, in a large bowl, whisk the egg and buttermilk, then whisk in the melted butter. With just a few quick stirs, turn the flour mixture into the wet mixture. The dough will be quite stiff.
With two spoons, one to scoop and one to scrape, fill the muffin cups. Gently sprinkle the sugar over the tops. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes, then either dig in! or turn out onto a rack to finish cooling. Best served warm or on the first day but still quite moist on the second and third days. After that, you may want to ‘toast’ the muffin halves in a toaster oven or skillet.
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